By providing free access to resources, forests provide for income and livelihood, especially to those in the surrounding areas. While some communities possess forest ownership rights that allow access to forests, and importantly to collect various forest products, most other communities do not have such ownership rights. Notably, the non-existence of forest access or ownership rights does not diminish the dependence of these communities on forests for daily needs.
The most commonly sourced non-timber forest products are wild meats, wild vegetables, and wild fruits. The wide variety of flora and fauna available in India along with the existence of different kinds of forests such as protected, non-protected and dense forests enables forests to provide a wide variety of products suitable for human consumption. Though National Sample Survey (NSS) data records consumption from free collection i.e. a combination of open access resources, common pool resources, common property resources, etc., the consumption of wild meats, vegetables and fruits can be found in abundance. Specifically, in the category of meats consumed, wild meats are the second-most consumed meat products. Similarly, wild vegetables are the second-most consumed products in the category of all vegetables consumed. While wild meats and wild vegetables are the second-most products consumed from free collection in the categories of “meats” and “vegetables” respectively, wild fruits form the highest consumption in the category of “fruits”.
Of the 8.38 percent of households that source at least one food from forests, the above graph represents that almost half of them source at least one vegetable.
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